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Fear, Freedom and Shaving your Head

January 06, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Recently, I stumbled upon an article online which captured my attention.  It was a first person account of a heterosexual woman who decided to shave her head.  While the account was from the mid-1990’s, it expressed something that rings true even today:

For the first few weeks after I shaved my head, I walked around very nervously, convinced that people were going to jump out of alleys and beat me up for being a lesbian.

Because I am straight and have a lot of straight friends who I am certain are totally disinterested in hurting my large number of gay friends, I knew that not all straight people hate all gay people. That didn’t matter. I was still nervous.

In some ways, the post reminded me of the conversation I had with Jane Wishon, a straight alley working hard in California to overturn Proposition 8.  But I also noted that the author, Kaitlin (aka Ducky), expressed fear that being perceived to be a lesbian would result in physical harm to her.

This got me to thinking about how successful those in the heterosexual community that devote their lives to tormenting LGBT people have been at promoting terror.  (This isn’t the first time I’ve implied – or even outright stated – that organizations such as the National Organization for [Heterosexual Only] Marriage and the American [Heterosexual Only] Family Association are terrorist groups; however, Kaitlin’s story reinforces my opinion.)

These organizations may think they are simply keeping marriage contracts from being entered into by same-sex couples, but through their lies to defend marriage from a same-sex takeover, they are propagating the idea that it’s ok to harm LGBT people.  The result is fear within our community, like that felt by Kaitlin.

Kaitlin was lucky as she didn’t experience any violence against her person.  Unfortunately, not all LGBT people (or those perceived to be LGBT) are as lucky as Kaitlin.  According to the 2008 FBI Hate crimes Statistics, there were 1673 victims of a bias based crime due to their status as LGBT – over four victims per day.  [For clarification, the term victim can include businesses/organizations as well as persons.  The calculations also exclude the 33 incidents of purported bias crimes based on heterosexual status (roughly 1 per every 10 days)].

But fear only has the power that we give it – and boy do we ever give it power.  As examples, Christopher and I rarely, if ever, hold hands in public; many of my friends speak in gender neutral terms about their spouses or boyfriends/girlfriends when among strangers; a heterosexual ally was convinced to remove the equality stickers by a fellow queer because he was afraid she would get hurt or her car would be broken into as she lives and works in a very small, rural, conservative town.

Until we can truly conquer that fear, we will not obtain equality or freedom – we will remain, marriage equality or not, victims of the majority tyranny.  I for one am tired of being a victim.  How about you?

Murder of Gay Youths in Tel Aviv: I’m the One to Blame.

August 04, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

isrealIn case you haven’t heard the news, Nir Katz, 26, and Liz Tarboushi, 16, are dead and 13 others are injured after a gunman, clad in black, entered an LGBT Community Center in Tel Aviv, Israel and opened fire.  I first heard the news via an email from jaysays.com contributor, Jude, and my internal voice fell silent.  While the event itself is shocking, it’s not surprising.

Now, we are left with the aftermath of this violent and unconscionable attack on human life. We’re left with more questions than answers, along with many people pointing fingers and looking for someone to blame.

Unlike some of my contemporaries, I don’t blame religion, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or otherwise.  The fact of the matter is this event could have been in any country, no matter how “liberal” and could have been orchestrated by any person of any religious background.  Why?  Because we have taught our children that being gay is: bad, a sin, evil, a mental disorder, a perversion – unequal.

In condemning other humans, religious text is used as justification, as religious text was used to justify the persecution of Protestants by the Catholics, Catholics by the Protestants, Jews by the Christians, Blacks by the Christians, Christians by the Muslims, Muslims by the Christians, etc., etc., etc.

Within the first 24 hours after the shooting, pseudo-Christian organizations and conservative bloggers began defending themselves against the gay activists that would surely blame them for this atrocity.  They condemned the murders while in the same breath, condemning gay people – or as some argue, the action of being gay.  While I believe this falls under Shakespearean theory, “The lady doth protest too much me thinks,” it is true that many LGBT activists have wrongfully pointed the finger at the innocent religions of the world.  As we all know, religion has never resulted in any violent act or atrocity as religion is about love and goodness.  Such would never result in things like the crusades, the September 11th attacks, concentration camps or the witch hunts.

But even though Mission America, Pat Robertson or any of the other folks that believe themselves superior to “our kind” are not to blame, there is someone to carry the burden.  Me.

When it gets down to the heart of the issue, I failed these kids.  I failed these kids because I spent 10 years as an openly gay man doing nothing, saying nothing and living complacently while these groups and/or individuals continued to actively pursue demonizing LGBT people (or again, the action of being gay).  I sat by and let Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena, Gwen Araujo, Paul Broussard, Steen Fenrich, Ronnie Paris, Jason Gage, Sakia Gunn, Michael Sandy, Angie Zapata, James Zappaloti, Arthur Warren, Barry Winchell, Rebecca Wight, Sean Kennedy and countless others be murdered without speaking up.  I was afraid, which is exactly what they want us to be.

Perhaps had I spoken up I could have changed one person’s mind about LGBT people.  Instead of believing LGBT people should be murdered, the person would have seen that we are human too – that when you prick us, we bleed.  Perhaps that person would have changed another person’s mind, and another, and another – and eventually that mind changing would have trickled through to the black-clad man who thought it better to murder LGBT youth than to be one, thought himself superior to those whose lives he took, to those he hurt, to those that still hurt.

Liz and Nir are still dead.  I can’t undo history or my regrets.  None of us can, but we can change the future.  It’s time that we all learn to speak out against the teachings of inferiority.  It’s time we all stand together and say – We’re here to protect our children.

Terroristic Attack at OutGames Labeled Hate Crime

July 29, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Hate Crimes, LGBT News

OUTGAMESThe OutGames, a type of gay olympics, are taking place in Copenhagen.  As is usual when gays gather, the games have been tarnished with protests and acts of hate.  This most recent event marks the second “hate crime” to occur since the games began.  The first involving the brutal beatings of three men participating in the events.  This time, a 31-year old man threw a bomb onto the track and field of one stadium, then, less than an hour later, threw another bomb at a second event.  Police were ultimately able to detain him.  It is believed the sexual orientation of the participants spawned the attack.

Copenhagen, the Danish capital,  is generally believed to be one of the most LGBT friendly places in the world.  These events clearly indicate that LGBT people have a long way to go before they can be safe from such terrorism.

Imagine though, that a man were to start throwing bombs at an Olympic or similar event not geared toward the LGBT community.  Within the hour it took for the man to throw a second bomb, every major news organization would be on scene and a banner would be scrolling on the bottom of every news station screaming “BREAKING NEWS: Terrorist Attack at Olympic Games!” Every talking head in the world would be lining up obscure guest experts to discuss terrorism and event security.  Within days, a book recounting the event would be on a lone shelf at the front of every Borders book store.  But that’s not the case.  In fact, as of the time of this post, only 15 articles appear under a Google news search related to the event – compare that to the more than 3,000 articles published after Sotomayor’s confirmation or 500+ within an hour after a speech about health care by Obama.

I can hear it now from the U.S. opposition of LGBT equality – it’s not a “terrorist” attack, he wasn’t Muslim (their bias, not my own)!!! Before you go there, consider the definition of terrorism:

The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

— terrorism.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 29 Jul. 2009. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/terrorism>.

It’s sad when people only care when it happens to them, isn’t it?